February 5, 2024
JAKARTA – Flooding and landslides caused by a series of severe weather events have damaged homes and displaced people in many regions of the country, prompting local and national authorities to issue a public advisory on potential hydrometeorological disasters.
A number of provinces across the country have been hit by heavy rain in recent weeks, in line with the forecast of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) late last year that the rainy season would arrive in early 2024 and could cause flooding.
Several regions on Sumatra currently battling floods include Ogan Ilir regency in South Sumatra and Bungo regency in Jambi.
In Ogan Ilir, heavy rainfall caused flooding in three villages on Wednesday. Floodwaters as of Thursday had reached a height of up to 40 centimeters and affected 183 families, with no local casualties reported, according to the regency’s Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD).
But disaster authorities are still struggling to manage the flood in Jambi’s Bungo regency, which has recorded deluges seven districts since last Saturday.
Torrential rain caused the nearby Batang Tebo River to overflow, inundating over 14,300 houses and displacing 53,000 residents in waters up to a meter high.
The flood also destroyed one suspension bridge and two concrete bridges, said Bungo BPBD head Zainudi.
“We only have five boats, while there are 88 villages affected by the flood. Despite the limited resources, our team continues to evacuate people from one village to another,” Zainudi said in a statement released on Thursday.
He added that dozens of residents had chosen to stay at their flooded homes.
The Bungo BPBD was monitoring supplies of food and clean water for the affected residents while mitigating potential health issues, Zainudi said.
A local resident identified as M. Ridwan, 48, died after saving two boys from being swept away by floodwaters in Tanah Sepenggal district, Tribunnews.com reported.
Ridwan experienced asphyxia and lost consciousness after saving the boys, and was pronounced dead on Sunday morning.
Disasters on Java
Some regions on the most populous island of Java are also flooded after days of torrential rain, including three villages in Purworejo regency, Central Java.
Jakarta has also been reeling from heavy rainfall over the past few days that caused the Ciliwung River to burst its banks and submerge surrounding areas, leaving nine neighborhoods in North and East Jakarta inundated by waters 60 cm high as of Thursday.
Jakarta BPBD head Isnawa Adji said the disaster agency was working with the city’s water resource agency on mitigation measures.
“We’re aiming to reduce the flooding soon,” Isnawa said on Thursday, as quoted by Kompas.com.
The recent spate of severe weather events also caused landslides in other areas of Java.
Part of a 20-meter-tall cliff in Wonosobo regency, Central Java, collapsed on Wednesday and blocked an access road connecting the districts of Kaliwiro and Medono.
The landslide was preceded by heavy rainfall that lasted three hours, Wonosobo BPBD head Dudy Wardoyo said, as quoted by Kompas.com.
Heavy rain coupled with strong winds also triggered landslides in Central Java’s Kebumen regency, toppling trees and damaging a number of houses in 14 villages.
At the start of the year, the BMKG warned the public about the potential for severe weather events across the country until February, and that such events could lead to hydrometeorological disasters such as flooding, landslides and typhoons.
Chances were high that very heavy rainfall, strong winds and high waves would occur, BMKG head Dwikorita Karnawati said at the time.
In a statement on Monday, the BMKG explained the recent intense rainfall was triggered in part by the Asian monsoon, which had brought more cloud-forming water vapor over the western and southern parts of Indonesian archipelago.
The agency also forecast that the majority of regions in the country would see moderate to heavy rainfall over the weekend, and warned of potential heavy rainfall and strong winds across Greater Jakarta.
Many regions have been seeing a greater frequency of severe weather compared to previous years.
The nearly weeklong flooding in Jambi’s Bungo is the third such disaster the regency has experienced since December.
“We have declared a state of emergency three times,” said Zainudi of the Bungo BPBD, adding that the latest emergency status would be in effect until Feb. 9.